<p>&quot;Wicked&quot;&nbsp;will soon cast its spell in movie theaters, but who will shepherd the project?</p>

"Wicked" will soon cast its spell in movie theaters, but who will shepherd the project?

Will J.J. Abrams or Ryan Murphy really direct 'Wicked'?

'Super 8' and 'Glee' creators just two of the candidates under consideration

One property that Universal Pictures has been dying to get off the ground is a big screen adaptation of the hit musical "Wicked." However, with Broadway and touring grosses for the "Oz"-inspired musical still raking it in, producer Marc Platt has resisted all charms from Uni execs to give the green light over concerns a movie version could hurt the stage runs.  Now, he may have little choice in the matter.  With Disney actively developing "The Great and Powerful Oz" with Sam Raimi, Universal (an investor in the musical) and Platt will have to move forward quickly if they want to avoid being the second "Oz" film in theaters over the next few years.

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Julianne Moore talks about her role in The Kid Are All Right

Julianne Moore talks about her role in "The Kid Are All Right"

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo are happy 'The Kids Are All Right'

Acclaimed actors talk about the critically beloved new dramedy

One of the most popular films out of the Sundance Film Festival was Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are All Right."  Screening out of competition, the dramedy found a fierce bidding war with Focus Features picking up domestic rights and smartly deciding to release it in the summer when it can gain momentum and attract more attention as an alternative to the summer blockbusters.  Critics haven't abandoned "Kids" since Park City with raves coming from the New York Times, the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other major outlets.  The film is opening in limited release today, but should quickly expand across the country in the coming weeks.

This pundit has been a fan of "Kids" since attending the world premiere at Sundance and was thrilled to have the chance to sit down and talk with two of the film's stars, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo. 

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Breckin Meyer and Ryan Philippe in "54"

The magic of "54" will no longer be part of the Walt Disney corporate family.  The travesty.

End of an era as Disney finally sells Miramax

Weinsteins lose their shot at getting their original company back

Appropriately timed on a busy entertainment news day to stay as under the radar as possible, the Walt Disney Company has finalized an agreement to sell its Miramax division to an investment group lead by Ronald Tutor and Colony Capital. The price of the sale is somewhere between $650-675 million, but effectively ends the 16-year relationship between the legendary indie label and the Disney corporation.  It also means the hopes of the company's original founders, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, to reacquire the mini-major are effectively dead. The company is not expected to officially change hands until the end of the month.

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Alice in Wonderland

New rules mean "Alice in Wonderland" doesn't have a shot in Best Animated Feature (not that it ever really did), but shouldn't have to worry about making the cut for Best Visual Effects.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

New Rules: Oscar makes intriguing changes to Visual Effects and Animation

Look for five nods in both categories as the Oscars move forward

In an increasing effort to clarify and bring a sense of fairness to the Visual Effects and Animation categories, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced three major rule changes today that will affect the nomination process for the 83rd Academy Awards.

Visual Effects has long been under the limit of just three nominees a year.  The contenders are selected through an exhaustive "bake-off" process that usually leaves one clear front runner and two also-rans that were just as worthy as some films not selected.  Now, five nominees will be the norm.  The last time that was possible was between 1977-79 and since 1996 there have only been three nominees.  This pundit's take is that it could make the category much more competitive in the long run which is always a good thing for a three-hour long (or more) awards show.

Also expanding the field, but not "officially" will be Best Animated Feature Film.  Previously, only submissions over 70 minutes long were considered "feature length" for animation.  This was odd since both feature film and documentary only had a 40 minute minimum.  By lowering the timeframe, the pool of animated submissions should increase and the "will there or won't there" concern over reaching 16 required contenders required for five nominations (as there earlier this year) will diminish.  This should end up providing more equal footing to the Animation Feature Film category without having to make five nominees mandatory (which saves the Academy from the potential embarrassment of having films such as "Hoodwinked" make the cut).

On the other hand, the final new rule is a bit perplexing.  Obviously reacting to concerns over motion capture films such as "A Christmas Carol" and "Monster House" being considered animated films, the Academy has added the following line to their rule regarding Best Animated Feature Film:

“An animated feature film is defined as a motion picture with a running time of greater than 40 minutes, in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique. Motion capture by itself is not an animation technique. In addition, a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time.”

Somehow, that seems more confusing than before.  Including the "by itself" line doesn't mean motion capture is or isn't considered animation which is part of the problem.  And how does 75% or  60% or 70% of a film's animation technique determine wither it's considered animated or not?  Needless to say, expect more debate on future candidates in this category until there is a further qualification that all sides can get on board. Or, does this mean we just a few years away from Best Motion Capture Animated Feature Film?  Let's hope not.

The new rules changes were voted on by the Academy governors at their June 22nd meeting, but were just announced today.

What do you think of the new rules?

For the latest entertainment commentary and breaking news year round, follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory .

Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"

Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network's" serious looking poster.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Oscar Watch: David Fincher's 'The Social Network' to open 2010 New York Film Festival

Prestigious slot another sign Sony believes Facebook movie is a contender

If the poster and teaser trailer weren't enough, any debate over whether Sony Pictures is positioning David Fincher's "The Social Network " as a potential Oscar contender was silenced today as the film was selected to open the 48th Annual New York Film Festival.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, "Network" chronicles the rise of online powerhouse Facebook and the legal battle that ensued to control the company that went somewhat under the public radar. The film was written by Aaron Sorkin and produced by awards season regular Scott Rudin and Michael De Luca among others.  Kevin Spacey is also on board as an executive producer on the project, but does not appear in the film.

The premiere will take place at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on Friday, Sept. 24 and traditionally means the picture will not be screened at the preceding Telluride, Venice or Toronto Film Festivals earlier in the month. "The Social Network" opens nationwide on Oct. 1.

In a statement released today, Film Society of Lincoln Center's Selection Committee Chair and Program Chair Pena said, “It's exceptionally rare to discover a film that so powerfully captures the spirit of its time; The Social Network is such a film. David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin are a director/writer team, like Lumet and Chayefsky before them, that make this movie not only of the moment, but reflective of larger cultural issues as well, and confirm their position at forefront of contemporary cinema."

The film's materials continue to position "Network" as a serious drama - a battle for the control of internet riches and multimedia power. This is strange considering the early buzz from those who have seen the film - and there are few - is about how funny it is.  Intriguing strategy to say the least, no doubt driven by Rudin's attentive Oscar-watching eye.

Sony Pictures also released another teaser trailer for the film in conjunction with the announcement.  You can watch it embedded below

For the latest entertainment commentary and breaking news year round, follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory .

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Josh Hutcherson

Josh Hutcherson talks about "Spider-Man," "The Kids Are All Right" and "Red Dawn."

Watch: Josh Hutcherson talks 'Kids Are All Right,' 'Red Dawn' and dreams of a 'Spider-Man' never to be

The 17-year-old has come a long way since 'Journey to the Center of the Earth'

Almost three weeks ago Josh Hutcherson was on top of the world. He'd just experienced another well-received premiere for his upcoming dramedy "The Kids Are All Right"  and was at the epicenter of swirling rumors about the casting of a new "Spider-Man."

Hutcherson, who is best known for his roles in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Bridge to Terabithia," was up or the role of Peter Parker along with a truckload of every 18 to 30-year-old actor in Hollywood.  However, Hutcherson was rumored to have made the cut to the final few candidates and some outlets were reporting it was his to lose.  Speaking to the 17-year-old, it was clear he didn't know whether he'd landed the role, but the excitment in his eyes betrayed that he really wanted it.  Instead of asking the obvious, I was curious what it was like to experience such a public casting call (something becoming all too common these days for numerous reasons) where whether you "win" or "lose" becomes daily media fodder.  Keeping a fresh face, his answer showed a youthful enthusiasm that director Marc Webb and the Sony brass ultimately decided to pass on.

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Ken Watanabe and Marion Cotillard in "Inception"

Ken Watanabe and Marion Cotillard in "Inception." Cotillard delivers another remarkable performance after "La Vie en Rose," "Public Enemies" and being one of the few standouts in "Nine."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Oscar Watch: Is 'Inception' a lock for a Best Picture nomination?

Marion Cotillard and director Chris Nolan key standouts in impressive thriller

One of the most anticipated films of the year, Christopher Nolan's "Inception" is a complex, intelligent and moving thriller and a worthy follow up to the filmmaker's masterpiece "The Dark Knight." Challenging the viewer on numerous levels, the picture is yet another example of how Nolan continues to navigate the delicate balance between commercial success and artistic significance in his feature film work.  Granted, some audiences will wonder what the integral set up is leading up to during "Inception's" first hour, but the picture's third act pay off is one of the most thought provoking and rewarding you'll find at the multiplex this or any other year.

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<p>Streep providing a very &quot;been there, done that&quot;&nbsp;pose at the luncheon for the 82nd Academy Awards nominees earlier this year.</p>

Streep providing a very "been there, done that" pose at the luncheon for the 82nd Academy Awards nominees earlier this year.

Credit: AP Photo

Can Margaret Thatcher help Meryl Streep win her third Oscar?

Cinema icon considering reuniting with 'Mamma Mia!' director for new biopic

Meryl Streep may be getting serious about landing that third Oscar.  Well, that may be of an overstatement, but Streep is considering playing a key historical figure that screams of Oscar bait:  Margaret Thatcher.

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Russell Crew as "Robin Hood"

If the budget had been just $50 million lower, the media would be hailing "Robin Hood" as a new franchise and a comeback for both director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Summer Box Office Hits and Misses: 'Toy Story 3,' 'The Karate Kid' and 'Robin Hood'

Are the biggest hits so far really 'Babies' and 'The Secret in their Eyes'

The July 4th weekend is almost upon us which means it's time to take a moment and review the results of the 2010 summer box office so far.  And, unlike last year, it hasn't been pretty.

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Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds is now an official member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer

Youth movement continues: Academy invites Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, Adam Sandler, Bono and 131 other new members

Should Adam Shankman, Tobin Bell, Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman make the list?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has over 6,000 members these days and is continuing to add to the fold.  This year, the organization has invited 135 new members to join (it's unclear if anyone ever turns down the offer) and they are smartly following AMPAS mandate of trying to lower the average age of the powerful industry group.  Why?  Well, relevancy does matter.  Without the recent influx of younger members (and we mean under 50 years of age), the Academy's recognition of some of the great independent features over the past decade may not have occurred. 

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